New Ross Standard - - INTERVIEW -

RYA N D e l a n e y, 21, from Ard na Greine in New Ross, has been one of Ire­land’s hottest young prospects play­ing in the UK in re­cent years.

He has been nom­i­nated for a Ris­ing Star Foot­baller of the Year North West award for his rock solid per­for­mances for Rochdale FC, in­clud­ing against Harry Kane’s Tot­ten­ham in the FA Cup last year at Wem­b­ley. His ca­reer be­gan with Ross Celtic and over the years he has con­sis­tently im­pressed at ev­ery club he has lined out for. The former CBS stu­dent first shot to promi­nence on the Wex­ford Youths side which cap­tured the SSE Air­tric­ity First Di­vi­sion ti­tle in 2015. He went on to play in the first half of their sole cam­paign in the top flight be­fore mov­ing to Bur­ton Al­bion in July, 2016.

The Ros­so­nian played a key part in one of the big­gest games in the Rochdale min­nows’ 111year his­tory, and the Wem­b­ley re­play brought the club im­mense fi­nan­cial re­wards.

The level headed Bar­rowsider joined the Lan­cashire club in the Jan­uary 2018 trans­fer win­dow, hav­ing re­turned to Championship strug­glers Bur­ton Al­bion af­ter a very pro­duc­tive loan spell with Cork City when he won a league and cup dou­ble, earned a na­tional player of the month award, and gained rep­re­sen­ta­tive hon­ours with the Repub­lic of Ire­land Un­der-21 squad.

De­laney wisely opted to drop down a di­vi­sion with the aim of se­cur­ing first team football.

He signed a two and a half year deal with Keith Hill’s Rochdale, and so far it looks like the best move he has ever made. How did you get in­volved in play­ing football?

I started play­ing when I was in school. I went to New Ross CBS and to the CBS Sec­ondary School. When I was around seven or eight I went to play for Ross Celtic. My friends were play­ing with the club and our group went on to be quite suc­cess­ful from u12 to u16s. We had Rob­bie Power and Brian Mul­lett over us and they were fan­tas­tic all the way along. I played in mid­field. When did you de­cide you wanted to play football as a ca­reer?

I re­mem­ber I was quite young. It was my first trip to watch my favourite team Man United, who were play­ing Read­ing. I was watch­ing Kevin Doyle, who went to school in New Ross, and I could see there was a pathway from com­ing through from a place like New Ross. There are a lot of suc­cess­ful peo­ple from the town, and in and around the town, and that gave me the in­spi­ra­tion that I could suc­ceed as long as I worked hard. When I was 13 I started play­ing with the county team along with quite a few lads from my class. It was around this time when I re­alised I had to make a de­ci­sion about what I wanted to fo­cus on and work to­wards and I de­cided I wanted to be a foot­baller. Once I de­cided I knew I was go­ing to put all my ef­fort into play­ing soccer. How did you progress with­Wex­ford Youths?

From the age of 15 I played with Wex­ford Youths. It was there where I had a lit­tle sneak at what a pro­fes­sional set up was like un­der Mick Wal­lace. He was over the team and it gave me a feel of that en­vi­ron­ment. We trained in Fer­rycar­rig and you could see the set up. It was an eye opener for me. I wanted to go and chal­lenge my­self with the team. It wasn’t un­til the year I went down to Wex­ford when Mick said there was an op­por­tu­nity if I wanted to play in cen­tral de­fence from 17 on­wards.

Was it a big change mov­ing from mid­field into a cen­tral de­fen­sive role?

You see all the lads scor­ing

“See­ing Harry Kane and Deli Alli warm­ing up on the side of the pitch was a bit sur­real”

goals ev­ery week and it can get a lit­tle bit frus­trat­ing, but the older I get the more I re­alise that it’s all about the team win­ning. It’s a good time to be a de­fender con­sid­er­ing the sums be­ing paid. Do you agree?

Over the last cou­ple of years the mar­ket rose for de­fend­ers with huge sums paid for play­ers like Vir­gil Van Dyke.

Which play­ers did you love watch­ing when you were grow­ing up?

Grow­ing up my favourite play­ers were Rio Fer­di­nand and Ne­manja Vidic. When I got a bit older it was Richard Dunne. Over the last five years of his Ire­land ca­reer he was in his prime and it was great to see how much it meant to him play­ing for his coun­try and how much he was will­ing to do for the team by al­ways putting it first. The level of com­mit­ment re­quired to be a pro­fes­sional must take its toll?

There is a lot of com­mit­ment but at the end of the day you do get an op­por­tu­nity to go out and let off some steam. When I went to Wex­ford first there was train­ing, a max­i­mum of two nights a week and a game at week­ends. It was ramped up to three nights a week with the se­nior team and a game at the week­end and we would go in for a day re­cov­ery on Satur­day. It meant an ex­tra two nights but you felt stronger and fit­ter and there was a step­ping stone of go­ing on. Mick Wal­lace, Seamie O’Shea and Shane Kee­gan gave me the op­por­tu­nity. Mick was fan­tas­tic with me from a young age when I went down there. It means a hell of a lot to grow up in a club and I put my mind fully to be­come a pro­fes­sional foot­baller to do the best can do and wanted to make sure.

Was it dif­fi­cult to be dis­ci­plined and avoid temp­ta­tions like al­co­hol in your late teens?

When I was 17 or 18 when all of my friends were go­ing out and en­joy­ing them­selves most week­ends – I just felt if I joined them it could dam­age my chances across the water. There were op­por­tu­ni­ties for me to go out with my friends but it was more about man­ag­ing that more spar­ingly more than any­thing else. How has play­ing for Rochdale been?

The last 18 months have been fan­tas­tic. The staff in Cork and John Caulfied and now I have come over here. The man­ager has given me a lot of chances and I want to re­pay him and re­pay my­self for all the hard work I’ve put in. Do you get any stick from English play­ers com­ing from Ire­land? Times have changed a lot for Ir­ish play­ers. It doesn’t make a dif­fer­ence where you come from as you have play­ers from all dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties and you just get on with it and with the work. It is a friendly dress­ing room where every­one en­joys ev­ery­body else’s com­pany and there is good craic. We feel com­fort­able around each other. The man­ager has given me a lot of game time and he is ob­vi­ously putting a lot of faith in me. I just want to re­pay him and to re­pay the team for tak­ing a chance on me. Has be­ing a well-known foot­baller changed the way peo­ple see you?

Times have changed. If you want a crazy life­style you’ll have one or you can have a re­laxed life­style I keep it low key. If the oc­ca­sion arises you can en­joy your­self. Is there a good liv­ing to be made?

I was get­ting paid from Bur­ton Al­bion and by the club when I was on loan in Cork. You get bet­ter wages (over here) but it de­pends on the club. What have been the high­lights of your ca­reer so far?

Last year play­ing the FA Cup against Spurs was a big mo­ment for me. We played them both at our ground and at Wem­b­ley. Go­ing out be­fore the game and see­ing Harry Kane and Dele Alli warm­ing up on the side of the pitch was a bit sur­real. Is it any dif­fer­ent play­ing against play­ers like Harry Kane?

You have to fo­cus the same way you go into ev­ery League game. The pitch was slow at the time and it added to the ex­pe­ri­ence. It was def­i­nitely a mile­stone mo­ment for me. What are your am­bi­tions for this year?

I want to take ev­ery­thing step by step and hope­fully con­tinue play­ing well this year and set a good stan­dard for my­self play­ing week in, week out in a suc­cess­ful team. Do you miss your home­town?

I miss the gen­eral craic over there and time with fam­ily and friends. It’s the small things, like fam­ily birth­days and catch­ing up with my mates. When I do get home you have to make the most of it. I think every­one in New Ross is gen­er­ally very friendly. They treat me the same as when I was grow­ing up. It’s just the vibe about New Ross that is nice. Do peo­ple treat you any dif­fer­ently now?

I do get asked for self­ies. I was a bit sur­prised at the start by that sort of stuff but you get used to it. I stay true to my­self – the way my fam­ily raised me.

Ryan with his cousins Conal (front), Cor­mac (left) and Olan.

A young Ryan meet­ing one of his he­roes, Kevin Doyle.

Ryan tack­les Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur star Lu­cas Moura while play­ing for Rochdale. Ryan with proud grand­par­ents, Wil­lie and Mar­garet.

Ryan with Wex­ford Youths’ Gary De­laney in Jan­uary 2012.

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